Monday, April 30, 2007

Sunny Climes

The north east of France has been hit by the unseasonally warm weather. For nearly three weeks now we've had days that have hit upwards of 28°C in the afternoon and no rain. Whilst I'm happy to sport my tanned d├ęcolletage, now that our income depends on something more fundamental than the whims of a consumer's shopping habits, you start to watch the weather a little closer.

Despite all the technological advances of recent years, the results of the harvest will come down to the pure force of nature. The lack of rain isn't a concern for the moment, given that the previous months were wetter than usual. However, the vines are now a month ahead of themselves in growth and drought or a change in the temperature bringing a late frost is still a worry. The chance of frost isn't discounted until mid-May.

I don't remember the technical term (and Frog left the photo in the village otherwise I'd have shown you) but the very young grape forms have already appeared on the vines. Similarly, the cherries in the garden have also shot out in the form of little green balls. At this rate they'll be harvesting the grapes in August.

Because of the long dry spell, the treatment of the vines had been postponed until after the first rains. The village did have a brief shower on Saturday which meant that Frog spent part of his Sunday preparing the tanks so that the workers could go straight out to the vines at 8am on Monday (today). Tomorrow is a holiday so it was a race against time to treat as many vines as possible before the end of the day. Father Frog is on holiday and this is the first time Frog has had to to this - I think it's been a busy day - learning on the job as the tractor broke down and a neighbour's had to be begged/borrowed for the afternoon. Luckily, they have a good relationship with other vinegrowers in the village and a young, experienced worker, Benoit, who's eager to do things well.

Tomorrow will be a break from all things viticole as we're escaping to the city (yes, there's an irony in the Parisians escaping to the country this weekend!) for a trip to Paris. We're going to be tourists for the day, you'll spot us waving from the bateau mouche!

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